You’ve seen the poster that states “there is no ‘I’ in TEAM.” That statement promotes the absence of individuals on effective teams.

That’s a crock. Every team has individuals. When those individuals align to the team’s purpose, values, behaviors, strategies, and goals, you have a shot at that team being productive and inspiring to serve upon.

When those individuals don’t align to the team’s purpose, values, goals, etc., you have a shot at being one of the world’s worst teams.

We need to look at the “AM” in TEAM. What do I mean by that?

I mean that individual behaviors of team members are critically important. Every individual team member acts the way they think they should, daily. If some act in self serving ways, they do so because they think that’s the way they should act. Their self-serving behaviors are probably being reinforced daily – by being rewarded, by being tolerated, etc.

If some act in cooperative, aligned ways, they do so because they think that’s the way they should act. Their serving-the-team behaviors are probably being reinforced daily.

The “AM” in TEAM means that individual team members need to look at their own behaviors – their individual plans, decisions, and actions – as team members. They need to ask themselves, “How AM I behaving as a team member today?”

If individual team members answer this question honestly, they may discover “I AM protective. I don’t share information or my mistakes with team members.”

Or “I AM indirect. I don’t clarify exactly what I need from my team mates, so they frequently don’t give me what I need.”

Or “I AM clique-ish. I support my two friends on the team and withhold support from team members who aren’t my friends.”

Or “I AM critical. I frequently and loudly point out other team members’ mistakes and short-comings.”

An aligned individual team member, answering this question honestly, may discover “I AM supportive. I praise others efforts and accomplishments promptly.”

Or “I AM involved. I coordinate efforts with team members so we’re all in sync with our projects, deadlines, and customers.”

Or “I AM connected. I make it a point to learn about my colleagues outside interests – be it their kids, running, snowboarding, football, whatever – and engage with them about their interests regularly.”

Or “I AM kind. I smile when I see teammates. I say ‘Hello.’ I wish others well, regularly.”

This powerful question – “How AM I behaving as a team member today?” – can help individuals understand the degree of their cooperative interaction across their team. Once they understand how cooperative they are (or aren’t), they can shift their behaviors to be more aligned, more cooperative, more of service to their team.

Effective teams don’t happen by default, they happen by design. Leaders must engage team members to examine their behaviors to ensure everyone is productive and aligned while being treated daily with trust, respect, and dignity.

And – leaders can be proactive by crafting an organizational constitution for their team, and ensure everyone aligned their behaviors to it.

How would you answer the “AM” question? What aligned team member behaviors were demonstrated in your “best ever” team? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © Kzenon – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

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S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers: Good Comes First (2021) and The Culture Engine (2014).
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